National Stadium of Solomon Islands
|Cost||$ 53 M|
|Other names||Pacific Games Stadium|
|Design||Central-South Architectural Design Institute|
|Contractor||China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation|
National Stadium of Solomon Islands – design description
How did plans to build a new National Stadium of Solomon Islands come about?
Why do the Solomon Islands need a new stadium?
On May 11, 2016, Solomon Islands won the right to host the 17th edition of the 2023 Pacific Games, beating its only rival, Tahiti, by a ratio of 12:10. The competition will be held in the Solomon Islands' capital city (Honiara) and will be hosted by the country for the first time ever.
As the Solomon Islands lacked adequate infrastructure, new sports arenas capable of hosting a major event had to be built. Shortly after the rights to host the competition were granted, the local authorities began looking for land where the main stadium and other venues for the Games would be built.
What was Taiwan's role in the plans to build a new stadium in the Solomon Islands?
In early 2017, it was reported that the construction of the new National Stadium would be funded by Taiwan. At the time, the construction cost was estimated at $28 million. On March 15, 2019, the governments of Solomon Islands and Taiwan signed an agreement to fund the construction. According to media reports in May 2019, the funds were to be provided in the form of a loan.
The site for the construction was finally selected in the eastern part of Honiara, on the main road (Kukum Highway) connecting the city center to the international airport. The stadium was to be built in place of the pitches near King George VI School, next to the golf course.
On July 9, 2019, a preliminary agreement was signed under which the construction was to be carried out by the Taiwanese company Fu Tsu. The new stadium was to accommodate up to 12,000 spectators.
How did China get involved in the project to build a new stadium in the Solomon Islands?
In September 2019, however, there was a twist in Solomon Islands' foreign policy, as it severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with the People's Republic of China. This also marked the end of Taiwan's support for the construction of the new stadium.
In October 2019, Solomon Islands was visited by the deputy head of the Chinese diplomatic mission in Port Moresby, Yao Ming, who promised the construction of a new stadium by China. At the same time, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, after a visit to Beijing, confirmed that the Chinese were willing to build a new stadium, which was expected to cost more than $50 million.
The Chinese have committed to building the entire sports complex for the Games, intended as a gift to the Solomon Islands. The construction of the new stadium by China is part of their long-standing strategy of so-called stadium diplomacy. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019, the two countries have signed a number of important agreements and undertaken a number of new joint ventures, with one of the largest projects being the construction of a sports complex for the Pacific Games.
How is the development of Solomon Islands National Stadium progressing?
Who designed Solomon Islands National Stadium?
The design for the new complex was prepared by China's Central-South Architectural Design Institute (CSADI). The plan was to build seven new facilities. In addition to the National Stadium, there was to be a swimming center, a tennis center, a building with catering and administrative functions, a training pitch with an athletics track, a multi-purpose hall and a hockey pitch.
Who will build the Solomon Islands National Stadium?
The tender process for the construction of the new sports complex, conducted inside China, started in December 2020. The contractor for the facilities was announced in March 2021, and became the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). In April 2021, a delegation of around 120 Chinese workers arrived in Honiara and, after undergoing a two-week quarantine (this was due to regulations to counter the COVID-19 pandemic), started work.
How is the construction of Solomon Islands National Stadium progressing?
The official groundbreaking ceremony, attended by, among others, the Chinese ambassador and the Solomon Islands prime minister, took place on May 5, 2021. In July 2021, at the request of the Solomon Islands, which cited the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pacific Games were postponed by several months, from July 2023 to late autumn of that year.
At the start of construction, unexploded World War II ordnance was encountered, causing a delay of about two months. At the peak of construction, the project was carried out by around 300 Chinese workers and 700 local labourers. The first to be completed was the training field with athletics track, which opened on April 22, 2022. Work on the main stadium is expected to be completed by the end of August 2023, with the Pacific Games scheduled to take place from November 19 to December 2, 2023.
What will the new Solomon Islands National Stadium feature?
What will comprise the sports complex around the Solomon Islands National Stadium?
The new sports complex, dubbed Sports City, will be built on two closely spaced plots of land in the eastern part of Honiara. The main part of the complex will house the National Stadium, as well as a swimming and tennis center and a building with catering and administrative functions. A piece to the east is planned for the second part of the center, which is to include a training pitch with an athletics track and a small stand, a multi-purpose hall and a field for hockey.
A sports hall, the so-called Friendship Hall, has also been built next to the main part of the complex, mainly for futsal. The hall was funded by Indonesia and opened on 1 November 1, 2022, while a football academy belonging to the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF Football Academy) will be built opposite the eastern part of Sports City. The construction of the academy has been subsidised by the governments of Japan and Papua New Guinea, with work set to begin on January 6, 2022.
What will Solomon Islands National Stadium look like?
The new facility will have a capacity of 10,000 spectators and will become the country's premier stadium, replacing the one located in the center of Honiara (Lawson Tama Stadium) in this role. The facility will feature a tartan athletics track and two similar covered stands along the length of the pitch, either side of it. Four floodlighting masts will be erected at the corners, and a video screen will be built behind the south arch.
The stands of the stadium will receive plastic seats, with the inscriptions 'Solomon' (on the east stand) and 'Islands' (west). The first rows of the stands will be above ground level. The auditorium will be covered by a cantilevered roof covered with a white membrane. Its form will combine parabolic segments with pointed triangular ends, visible on the outside.
A distinctive feature of the stands façade will be the diagonal roof supports, arranged in a V-shape. At night, the facility will be able to be illuminated in various colours. The open nature of the stadium and the open spaces are intended to aid natural ventilation, important in a hot and humid climate.
What is the symbolism of Solomon Islands National Stadium?
The original form of the stadium's roof is intended to refer to the shape of the traditional boats used in the Solomon Islands. The pointed forms covered with white sheathing are meant to suggest sails. The roof supports and its triangular outer contours reflect the local architectural style. The triangular motifs are also replicated in the other buildings of the complex.
On a symbolic level, the stadium is intended to reflect the boat of friendship between China and the Solomon Islands, which is breaking through the wind and waves, sailing towards the future. Maritime accents and motifs relating to local building traditions are incorporated into the design. The building combines original local features with modern architecture, also referencing China's friendly relationship with the Solomon Islands.
What will be the significance of Solomon Islands National Stadium?
The new National Stadium and the entire complex is a milestone for Solomon Islands' sports infrastructure, which until now has not had modern arenas for sports. During the 2023 Pacific Games, the venue will be the main arena for the event, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as athletics, football and rugby competitions.
The stadium will provide a suitable venue for national football or rugby team matches and other national and international events. The facility will also be one of the most distinctive buildings in Honiara.
What does Solomon Islands National Stadium have to do with geopolitics?
Originally, the construction of the stadium was to be supported by Taiwan, but after the Solomon Islands' geopolitical course changed in 2019, the People's Republic of China took over the role of funder. The new National Stadium has thus become recognisable as one of the main symbols of this transition and of China's growing influence in the Pacific.